Management via Organic Gardening and Farming Pest Control
Control of garden pest Wood Lice starts with an understanding of their biology and needs. These small (up to 1.5 cm), grey critters have many aliases – Slater, Pill Bug, Tiggy Hog and Sow Bug being some of them.
Woodlice are, in fact, a kind of land going crustacean! Their segmented bodies are flattened versions of the basic prawn anatomy.
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While they are adapted to life on the land, they still need moist conditions in which to live and breathe through their specialised dry gills.
For this reason they are mostly active at night or in permanently sheltered and humid conditions such as under mulch and in compost and rotting timber.
Unfortunately, the thick mulching and heavy compost use associated with good organic gardening provides Wood Lice with perfect conditions! And they can also become a problem in greenhouses due to the favorably permanently moist conditions.
The main breeding season begins in spring.
Females carry their young about, which take around 3 months to mature and can live for several years.
There are many species of Wood Lice.
Some are specialized compost bugs that only eat fungus and cause no problems for the organic grower, being an integral part of your composting system.
Others will also attack soft plant tissue, such as gnawing through the stems of young seedlings, which is the chief way they antagonize organic gardeners.
You can tell them apart by checking their ability to roll into a ball – compost Wood Lice can’t whereas the seedling attacking types can.
Their mouthparts can only cope with soft plant tissue such as fungus or young growth.
If Wood Lice are seen feasting on older plants they are often there simply cleaning up existing fungal disease or have been allowed access to the soft parts of the plant by other damage such as insects or wind trauma.
HOME MADE ORGANIC PEST CONTROL OF WOOD LICE
A combined approach is needed to minimize the damage wrought by problem infestations of garden pest Wood Lice.
Consider some of these vegan pest control methods:
Cultural Methods for Garden Pest Wood Lice
- Pay attention to your composting so it achieves a good heat. This will tend to drive out Wood Lice from using it as a hotel and breeding site. Also allow the compost to thoroughly decompose before using it in the garden.
- Before planting out seedlings, wait until they are well grown and sun harden them to toughen the stems.
- When planting out seedlings, clear a space around them of mulch of at least 10 cm (4 inches). Only water early in the morning.
- Drip irrigate your plants to avoid creating ideal conditions for Wood Lice over large areas. Avoid over-watering, and allow the ground to dry between waterings.
- Discourage fungal problems by promoting good air flow around your plants. Grow sprawling vines (e.g. pumpkin) on trellises or lift them off the ground with bricks.
Trapping Garden Pest Wood Lice
You can make an irresistible lure for Wood Lice using pieces of cut potato, orange shells, grated cheese or strawberries sandwiched between two thick layers of damp newspaper.
Set the lure out late in the day in a moist spot in your garden and then collect up the trapped Slaters in the early morning by wrapping up the whole shebang and unfurling it to your chickens for breakfast – they’ll love them!
Garden Hygiene Approach for Garden Pest Wood Lice
Hot breeding sites for Wood Lice include stacks of rotting timber, rocks, bricks, compost, weeds, prunings, newspaper, or mulch… just the sorts of things that an organic gardener or farmer tends to have in abundance around the place!
Tidy up your garden in late winter to remove any unnecessary breeding sites. The good news is that Woodlice don’t travel far from their breeding sites, so keeping such material stored in a spot away from your young seedling beds is a worthwhile strategy.
Encourage Natural Predators of Garden Pest Wood Lice
There are a lot of critters that love to dine on our little land crustaceans, including toads, lizards, some hunting spiders and beetles, centipedes, wasps, shrews and birds. The same critters will also snaffle up other problem pests in the garden, so create habitat and friendly conditions for them.
Don’t use harmful sprays. Put in a few nectar producing shrubs and flowers around the garden, as well as a small pond with rocks and logs as hiding spots around it.
Using Diatomaceous Earth to Control Garden Pest Wood Lice
Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder made up of tiny fossil algae. Sprinkled around problem areas, the powder works by getting caught in the body parts of the Wood Lice where it causes abrasion and wounding, leading to death.
Make a Barrier to Exclude Them
In the greenhouse you can stop Woodlice from getting up onto your seedling benches by smearing a thick band of grease around the legs. The same method can be used around the base of individual pots to thwart their climbing efforts.